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Bible Commentaries
2 Corinthians 7

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verse 1


17. Therefore come out from the midst of them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing: and I will receive you.

18. And I will be unto you for a Father, and you shall be unto me for sons and daughters, saith the Lord mighty.” This is clear, grand and glorious on regeneration, a splendid text from which to preach this precious grace to lost sinners. Here the Almighty condescends to call them from the deep abysses of slumdom and filthy cess-pools of iniquity, kindly and lovingly entreating them to leave the devil and his filth, outright and forever, bidding adieu to their old companions in vice and immorality, with a distinct understanding that they are never to return. How lovingly and importunately He here pleads with them, “ Touch not the unclean thing ”;

i. e., when they leave the devil, their wicked companions and sins, they are never again to touch them. Millions are now in Hell he undertook gradually to break off from sinful habits. In that case the gradualism generally runs the wrong way. No drunkard ever reforms gradually; he can not do it. With him it is sudden and eternal abandonment and dissolution of all partnership with the whisky devil, or damnation world without end. There is no successful reform without adhesion to the Divine mandate, “Touch not the unclean thing.” When the sinner does his part, leaves the devil and all sin never to go back, then he has nothing to do but come to God by simple faith in His promise here given, “ I will receive you, I will be unto you a Father, and you shall be unto me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” God’s word never can fail. If it did, His throne would crumble and His kingdom fall. Hence the vilest sinner has nothing to do but take God at His word, leave all and leave forever, coming to God with the full assurance of faith “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” How strange the guilty, debauched millions of earth do not heed this call of loving mercy and fly at once to the embrace of a sympathizing Heavenly Father, thus passing triumphantly out of darkness into light, out of bondage in freedom, out of pollution into purity, out of death into life, out of Hell into Heaven.

1. Having, therefore, these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all the pollution of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God .” This is one of the many instances in which the uninspired chapter- makers committed an egregious blunder, by cutting the paragraph in two in the middle, illustrating the fact that they did not know much about the meaning of the Scripture. So this verse belongs to the preceding subject of regeneration, confirmatory not only of the two separate and distinct works of grace in the plan of salvation, but their intimate proximity either to other. It only took Israel eleven days to travel from Mt. Sinai, on the bank of the Red Sea, to Kadesh-Barnea, which means “holy delight” and lies right on the order of Canaan. God’s an was for them to enter the land of corn and wine at that early date instead of retreating away and wandering forty years in the waste, howling wilderness. This verse, so clear and explicit on entire sanctification as a second work of grace, follows immediately after the preceding verses expository of regeneration, showing that young converts should not delay till they grieve away the Spirit, but hasten with all expedition into entire sanctification. The promises here mentioned are given in the preceding verses, where God most unequivocally promises the sinner regeneration and adoption when he comes to Him by simple faith, having abandoned the devil and all of his sins, leaving his kingdom forever. We find two distinct departments appertaining to this glorious second work of grace, i. e., the flesh and the spirit. What is the “ filthiness of the flesh ”? Tobacco in all of its forms and phases is terribly filthy, really intolerably nasty, so much so that a decent sinner such as your humble servant once was, though brought up in the worst tobacco State in the world, never could use it. While all my friends not only used it, but tried to get me to do the same, my sense of decency revolted against it, even in my childhood. It is a rank narcotic poison, productive of paralysis, dyspepsia, heart disease, Bright’s disease, and a vast catalogue of terrible physical maladies. A sinner ought to quit it for the sake of common decency; a Christian, for Jesus’ sake; but if you get truly sanctified, it will do its own quitting, as you will get so near God you will be afraid He will smell your filthy tobacco breath when you pray. Opium is also a terrible filthiness of your flesh which none but Jesus with His sanctifying blood can eradicate out of the craving system. Intoxicating drinks must all go forever in this dark catalogue. There is to be no compromise whatever along this line. Gluttony must go, too.

The physical can no longer predominate over the spiritual if you are going to be holy to the Lord. The hog must go down and the angel come up. Jewelry and all needless ornamentation and gaudy display pollute your body, and disqualify it to become the honored and beautiful temple of the Holy Ghost. If you get sanctified, you no longer need artistic beauty in any of its forms and phases, as you have the beauty of holiness, which so eclipses all others as to bury them away in eternal oblivion. In the motley group designated “filthiness of the Spirit,” we find evil tempers, passions, incentives and predilections generally, such as anger, wrath, malice, revenge, envy, jealousy, pride, vanity, lust, egotism, sectarianism, and the malevolent affections indiscriminately. All these are the works of the devil, which Jesus came to destroy (1 John 3:8). You have nothing to do but turn them over to Him and leave them with Him. He will exterminate them world without end. To this glorious reality the Holiness Movement furnishes witnesses by wholesale who were once the slaves of the whisky devil, besotted drunkards; and the lust devil, debauched libertines, down at the bottom of slumdom. They are now standing in front of the battle waving the blood-stained banner, shouting the war-cry, and ranked among the most efficient preachers of the age. You need not think that anything is hard for Omnipotent Grace. You have nothing to do but give Him a chance. “ Perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” This clause is expository of the preceding commandment to “ cleanse ourselves from all the filthiness of the flesh and the spirit.” Whenever we get rid of all our unholiness, then our holiness is perfect, i. e., complete, has the field without a rival. This follows as a logical sequence from the simple fact that all of our unholiness either appertains to body or soul. Hence, when we get rid of these two classes of pollution, which is the antithesis of holiness, then we have what the Scripture calls perfect or complete holiness. Remember this is a statement of quality rather than quantity. A small garden may be as clean as a large field, yet there is a great difference in magnitude. When you get saved from all the “filthiness of the flesh and spirit,” your holiness is complete, though you may be but a spiritual infant contemplating growth into manhood. Yet we must not follow natural analogies too far, lest these metaphors break down and become incorrect, as we have a rule in rhetoric that we are not to press a metaphor too far, as it is only legitimate for exegesis within its sphere. In the spiritual realm, while sanctification gives us purity and subsequent growth in grace maturity, yet we must bear in mind that in spiritualities there is no getting old in the sense of incurring infirmity, as in the case of the body. But while we grow into maturity, we continue to grow more rapidly than ever, never reaching the terminus and never getting old, but blooming in immortal youth forever, growing on till we leave this world, and then growing in Heaven more rapidly than ever we did on earth, because Heaven is much more congenial to growth and prosperity than this world, this spiritual growth and development continuing through all eternity.

Verses 2-7


2. Receive us,” i. e., when we come; “have no hesitancy, though you have heard much disparaging against us during our absence. We have injured no one, we have ruined no one,” i. e., by false doctrine or in any other way, “we cheated no one.” This is a protestation of their purity and innocence, which we all should be prepared to make.

3. I do not speak to your condemnation; for I have before said that you are in our hearts to live along with you and die along with you.” He is now speedily coming to them, and he is preparing for his reception by the most affectionate declarations of his paternal affection in their behalf.

5. For we coming into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest; fightings without and fears within.” Some have misconstrued this statement about “fightings without and fears within” as out of harmony with the conclusion that he and his ministerial comrades at that time enjoyed entire sanctification. Such criticism is utterly untenable, as we see from the following verse the entire scope of those fightings without and fears within. It was simply because of his ardent love and importunate solicitude in behalf of the Corinthians. He had sent Titus on before him to preach to them and expound his first epistle to them, and do his utmost to bring about the desired reformations and readjustments. When Titus arrived bringing the good news, all of these “ fightings without and fears within ” were at an end. To give them any sort of carnal construction is utterly irreconcilable with the context.

6. But God, who comforteth the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” Here we find the end of all the “fightings without and fears within” mentioned in the preceding verse.

7. Not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted by you, proclaiming to us your earnest desire,” i. e., to see him, and to fulfill his wishes, “ your steadfastness, as Titus had been so encouraged to see you standing true to the faith, like heroes on the battle- field, your zeal in my behalf, so that I rejoice the more.” He postponed writing this letter until after the arrival of Titus, whose ministry had been signally blessed at Corinth with a grand and glorious reclamation of all who had backslid, and renunciation of all the errors designated and condemned in the first epistle, and a reaffirmation of their faith on all lines of revealed truth, and really a general, sweeping revival had crowned the labors of Titus and. his comrades. So when he came up into Macedonia and brought all this good news, it turned a sun-burst of joy on the apostle, inundating him with exultation and gratitude because of the wonderfully good news from his spiritual children.

Verses 8-16


8. Because if indeed I grieved you with a letter,” i. e., this was the first epistle in which he had designated their errors, irregularities and apostasies, and castigated very severely for the same. “ I do not regret it, if indeed I did reject it: for I see that if indeed that epistle did grieve you for a time.

9. Now I rejoice, not because ye were grieved, but because ye were grieved unto repentance: for ye sorrowed according to God in order that you might in nothing be damaged by us.

10. For godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation not to be regretted, but the sorrow of the world worketh out death.” While the sorrow of the world which breaks the hearts of millions (for this world is really flooded with sorrow) actually works out physical death, frequently causing immediate suicide, and in countless instances shortening life and expediting physical death, bringing down myriad’s in sorrow to a premature grave, as the Scripture says, “The wicked shall not live out half their days”; yet it is an indisputable fact that the sorrow of the world is constantly working out the spiritual death of worldly people. How is this? Why, this awful, heart-crushing, worldly sorrow, for which there is no condolence with the wicked, is really a prelude of Hell torment, coming on Satan’s poor victims of death and damnation, and actually working out in them spiritual and eternal death. You will observe “repentance” occurring three times in this passage in the E.V., where I translate it “regret.” This is one of several instances in the E.V. where metamelomai is translated “repent.” All this is incorrect and illusory to the English reader, as metanoeoo, from meta, “to change,” and nous, “the mind,” is the only word used in the Greek Testament to denote “repentance.” The same mistake occurs in E.V. in case of Judas Iscariot, stating that he repented, which is not correct. The reason I so explicitly make this explanation and expose that error in the E.V., is not only because it is true, but because it is necessary to defend the Bible doctrine of repentance from a very egregious misunderstanding. Repentance is not only a grand and momentous reality in the gracious economy, but actually constitutes the foundation of a true Christian experience (Hebrews 1:6). It is a grandly significant fact that repentance is invariably the antecedent of justification, always putting the sinner on believing ground, where the exercise of faith is easy, salvation coming as certainly as the tide flows down the river. God never fails. John the Baptist preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” showing plainly that repentance qualifies everybody to walk right into the kingdom of God. To be sure, faith is the open door into the kingdom; yet repentance puts you on the threshold, where you have nothing to do but walk right in through the open door. If Judas had repented he would have been gloriously reclaimed, gone on and received the fiery baptism on the day of Pentecost, and then gone out with his apostolical comrades to preach the everlasting gospel. This word metamelomai, in the case of Judas and three instances in the passage now under discussion, means keen and pungent “regret,” and frequently, as in the case of Judas, intensifying into intolerable remorse, precipitating its hopeless victim into suicide. Metanoeoo, properly translated “repent,” has a meaning entirely different from metamelomai. It is from meta, “change,” and nous, “the mind,” and consequently simply means a change of mind. While the metaphysical meaning ‘of this word is rather weak, involving simply a change of purpose or plan, the spiritual meaning which is proper, pertinent and general in the Scriptures, is very deep, strong and comprehensive. When God created man in His own image and likeness, He invested him with the Divine mind. Satan maneuvered in the Fall to divest him of his Heavenly endowment, substituting in its place his own filthy, paltry mind, so enfeebling and beclouding man’s native intellect that it immediately became subordinated to his animal body, thus developing the carnal mind, which is actual enmity against God (Romans 8:7), “not subject to His law, neither indeed can be.” Hence the only remedy for it is utter extermination, all efforts to refine and subordinate it to the Divine will proving utter and hopeless failures, only ultimating in ruin and damnation. Hence the true meaning of repentance is the removal of the carnal mind out of humanity and the restoration of the Divine mind, the latter subordinated to God and the former to the physical body. Hence the complete work of repentance is only reached in a perfect and final consecration; the word in its ordinary use simply indicating the initial work, characteristic of every penitent sinner when he leaves Satan and all of his sins and comes to God. Hence John Wesley taught the repentance of believers, legitimately using the word in its higher Bible sense of entire consecration. The repentance and consecration are, therefore, generically identical, though specifically different; their identity consisting in a total abandonment, the sinner giving up al his bad things to the devil, to whom they belong, and leaving Satan and everything he possesses never to return, while in consecration the Christian gives up all his good things to God to be used for His glory forever. The common apprehension of repentance is that of godly sorrow, which is not correct. While godly sorrow is a normal and most potent antecedent to repentance, yet it is a different thing altogether. As you see above, “ a godly sorrow worketh repentance not to be regretted.” This “ godly sorrow ” is the normal fruit of a true spiritual conviction, and the intermediate link connecting conviction and repentance. As all conviction, even the most potent, may be stifled and survived, and the sinner go right on his Hellward bound way, so of godly sorrow. It may be so awful as to drive away sleep and appetite for days together, and still the person not repent, as I have actually witnessed in many instances. Repentance simply means a change in mind, i. e., from the carnal mind to the mind of Christ. The experimental phase of it is simply for the sinner to turn on his heel, bid adieu to the devil and all of his sins, leaving Satan’s kingdom at once and forever. He may do that crying or laughing, at his own option. The salient fact is simply for him to do it. In that case God always forgives and saves.

11. For, behold how great earnestness this same godly sorrow hath wrought unto you!” He means the grand and general rally down at the altar, unanimously and importunately seeking before God the reclamations and reformations and all the corrections specified in Paul’s first letter. “Apology.” They had vindicated themselves to Titus, giving satisfactory explanations and apologies for the matters of which Paul had accused them, and effecting with Titus a satisfactory reconciliation. “ Clearing up.” This they had done with Titus, satisfying him of their innocence, loyalty and conservatism to the Pauline doctrine and experience, and everything involved in his letter. “Reverence.” They had shown to Titus a true reverence for Paul as their spiritual father unto God, notwithstanding the strenuous efforts made by certain preachers who had come from Judaea, denouncing Paul as an innovator and an interloper because he was not one of the original Twelve. They abundantly satisfied Titus that they had a true and sincere filial reverence for Paul as their spiritual father, fully accepting, endorsing and appreciating all the doctrines he had preached to them. “Longing.” This means a longing to see him again, and hear him preach, after an absence of three and a half years, assuring Titus that they had rather see him than anybody, and not only bid him a joyous welcome, but are actually longing to see him. “Zeal.” Titus certified to Paul that their zeal to punish the incestuous man, and to regulate all the irregularities and disorders among them, was really intense; that they were in perfect sympathy with everything Paul had written, and willing and anxious to enforce New Testament law in every particular. “Vindication.” This means that they unanimously approbated the vindication of law and order among them, and that there was a universal approval of all Paul had written or preached to them on these different subjects. “In everything ye have commended yourselves to be pure in the matter;” i. e., they had satisfied Titus fully that in the flagrant case of the adulterous man they were a unit with Paul in the enforcement of discipline.

12. Then if indeed I wrote to you, it was not on account of him that did the wrong, nor on account of him that suffered the wrong; but in order that your zeal which is in our behalf towards you before God may be made manifest.” This verse shows that the father of the man who had his second wife was still living, which made the case so flagrant. Now that they have so nobly and unanimously received Paul’s castigatory letter, and, instead of dividing up, some taking sides with the offending member and others with Paul against him, they had without a dissenting voice responded a hearty amen to Paul’s condemnation and castigation in the matter. Besides, the whole church had come down in deep sorrow and wept before God over that dark blot which Satan had cast on the fair escutcheon of their church. Meanwhile the guilty man had done everything in his power to rescind and readjust the irregularity, being so penitent and broken-hearted over it that it seemed he would die of grief. Now that the matter has taken this happy turn, the original parties being all satisfied, he very adroitly changes the point of controversy and recognizes the value of his communication to them in reference to the aggravated case of immorality that it has resulted in the satisfactory manifestation of their mutual zeal in his behalf and his parental love toward them.

13-14. Therefore we have been comforted. But, in addition to our consolation, we rejoice the more abundantly over the joy of Titus because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.” The truth of the matter was, Titus had not only succeeded in the mission on which he had been sent, i. e., to effect their unanimous acceptance and appreciation of Paul’s first epistle, but under his labors a glorious revival had broken out and swept along, which had also flooded him with a double consolation. Hence, when Titus brings the news to him up in Macedonia, Paul receives a double blessing, the one that of the good news from Corinth that they had received joyfully all the doctrines and disciplinary corrections in the letter he had sent to them, and the other was to see Titus himself so wonderfully revived up and inundated with the victory the Lord had given him in his ministry at Corinth. “ Because if I have rejoiced in anything with him in your behalf, I was not ashamed, but as I spoke all things in truth to you, so also your rejoicing over Titus was true.

15. And his heart is the more abundantly toward you remembering the obedience of you all how you received him with fear and trembling.

16. I rejoice, because in everything I am assured by you.” At this point the letter becomes exceedingly complimentary and even eulogistic; so that it certifies that in everything he is fully assured among them. A couple of months after this writing he arrived among them, and doubtless enjoyed an exceedingly happy reception, and though we have no record of his ministry among them the ensuing three months, where he spent the winter preparatory to his last journey to Jerusalem the following spring, there is no doubt but it was a time memorable and glorious for the victories of truth and righteousness. During that time he wrote the letter to the Romans.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/2-corinthians-7.html.
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